JANUARY 9, 2004
Formula 1 men on the Dakar
The annual Paris-Dakar rally raid is currently going on in Africa and a number of former Formula 1 drivers are figuring strongly in the event although none have been able to keep up the pace which has been set by Mitsubishi drivers Stephane Petershansel and his team mate Hiroshi Masuoka. Peterhansel is bidding to become only the second person in Dakar history to win the event on both two and four wheels.
Peterhansel is currently an hour ahead of the BMW X5 of Gregoire de Mevius, who has 15 minutes in hand over Masuoka who was delayed with mechanical trouble yesterday. In close pursuit of the Japanese star is Jean-Louis Schlesser, the multiple sports car and rally raid champion, who was a regular Williams test driver back in the 1980s and raced for the team at Monza in 1988. Schlesser is driving a Ford-engined Schlesser Buggy. Another former F1 driver Paul Belmondo is 15th in a Nissan but he is more than six hours behind the leaders. In 25th place is Ukyo Katayama in a diesel-powered production Toyota, who is nearly 10 hours behind after a disastrous second day which saw the Japanese driver drop to 130th in the order. He has since climbed back up the order with a strong performance each day.
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